Hazmat Personal Protection Equipment
HazMat Incident in Niagara Falls, NY – Liquid Hydrogen

Hazmat team

HazMat in Action!

As you may have heard, a major hazmat incident occurred in Niagara Falls, not far from ICC Compliance Center’s location. On a late Monday night in October, a tanker truck carrying nearly 13,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen (UN1966) hit the base of a light pole in the parking lot of a local grocery store as the driver was attempting to turn around. This resulted in a valve on the truck to become damaged and could have caused the highly flammable liquid hydrogen to be released from the truck triggering a very serious situation for nearby residents and businesses. Although the driver received a traffic violation, nobody was physically harmed by the incident. Watching this news story unfold made me think about how this incident could have turned out much differently if hazmat protocol wasn’t followed.

Initial Response:

As the tanker truck crashed into the pole, local officials on hand realized the dangers of what was inside the truck because it was properly placarded with a UN1966 placard. Had the truck not been placarded correctly, officials would not have known what was inside the truck and what dangers could come from exposure to the highly flammable liquid hydrogen. As a result, officials were able to respond quickly and evacuated all local businesses and roads leading to the grocery store parking lot the accident took place in. Officials Continue Reading…

Would You Survive a Zombie Apocalypse?
Would You Survive a Zombie Apocalypse?

Would You Survive a Zombie Apocalypse?

Take the Quiz! See if you would survive!

The idea of zombies, the undead, and those things that come back from the grave have been around in society as far back as 1932. That was the year Bella Lugosi starred in the movie “White Zombie”. This was followed by other classic horror movies such as “Night of the Living Dead”, “The Serpent and the Rainbow” and “World War Z”.  Zombies have even moved into mainstream TV. We now have “iZombie”, “The Walking Dead” and “Z Nation” to name a few. In each of those, zombies are created by a virus, radiation exposure, mutations or even voodoo curses. What makes for good entertainment are the stories of people evading or escaping from them. After all, the main source of food for a zombie is the human brain.

It begs the question then, could you survive a fictional zombie apocalypse?

Zombie Apocalypse Survival Quiz

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What started as a joke with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) back in 2011 is now a way to discuss emergency preparedness. Zombies are not real. Our questions and answers should not be used as an actual guide or techniques to use in a natural disaster. For real and in-depth information on emergency preparedness check out Barbara Foster’s recent blog At ICC Compliance Center we want you to be safe at home and in your workplace. Give us a Continue Reading…

Lithium Battery
What to Do if Your Lithium Battery Catches Fire

Lithium Battery Fire

Lithium Batteries in the News Again

Once again lithium batteries are in the news. The FAA is proposing a worldwide laptop ban in checked bags on international flights. Tests conducted by the FAA have concluded that when large electronics like laptops overheat in checked luggage, they run the risk of combustion when packed with aerosol canisters like hairspray and dry shampoo. As a result, the potential for explosion becomes a danger to the entire aircraft. The risks are certainly a lot higher if your lithium battery device does in fact catch fire on an airplane, but what exactly is the reason lithium batteries catch fire and what should you do if your device does catch fire during your daily routine?

What is Thermal Runaway?

Previously I wrote a blog on how to prevent lithium batteries from catching fire. But why exactly do lithium batteries catch fire? Lithium-ion and lithium-metal cells are known to undergo a process called thermal runaway during failure conditions. Thermal runaway results in a rapid increase of battery cell temperature and pressure, accompanied by the release of flammable gas. These flammable gases will often be ignited by the battery’s high temperature, resulting in a fire similar to the video below.

Another major reason behind thermal runaway is other microscopic metal particles coming in touch with different parts of the battery, resulting in a short-circuit.

Usually, a mild short circuit Continue Reading…

Emergency Preparedness
Safety & Emergency Preparedness

Firemen Extinguishing a Fire

Dangerous Times, Dangerous Goods

This year has seen environmental disasters that have put millions of people at risk. From the incredible one-two-three punch of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, to the Bangladesh floods, to the recent earthquake in Mexico, we see people facing lack of food, clean water and shelter. All of us need to protect ourselves and our loved ones during these periods when outside help hasn’t arrived. But while we’re watching out for what Mother Nature can throw at us, we must also remember hazardous chemicals and articles, even those that can help us survive, can put us in danger as well.

How to Prepare for Natural Emergencies

What does a typical household need to prepare for natural emergencies (or even man-made ones such as chemical spills that can isolate and endanger communities)? A number of websites list “must haves” and “should haves” for these situations, including:

What are some of the hazards that our own preparations can create?

One of the biggest dangers during emergencies is generators. These internal-combustion power sources can be lifesaving, especially for those with special health needs, and can make life during power outages more bearable. But they function by burning fuel, which can Continue Reading…

Fire Safety
NFPA’s Fire Prevention Week 2017

Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has designated the week of October 8th as Fire Prevention Week. This date was chosen as the Great Chicago fire started on October 8, 1871. Each year a theme for the week is chosen in an effort to keep fire safety present in people’s minds. This year’s theme is “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” An explanation of the theme is best explained by a video from Sparky, The Fire Dog.

Here are some statistics from a recent survey conducted by the NFPA. About one in every 338 homes had a fire each year from 2010 to 2014.  For most of those years the second leading cause of fires in homes and fire deaths/injuries is heating equipment. In terms of escape planning, only about a third of the US has developed and practiced a home escape plan. Also, many people believe they would have 6 minutes before a home fire could become life threatening when in reality the time is much shorter. The most shocking statistic of all was that only 8% of those surveyed indicated that when hearing a fire alarm their first thought was to leave the home or building. These are numbers we cannot deny and should all consider.

So, what can you do?  Here are some ideas from NFPA to use during Continue Reading…

Safety
Fall Safety Tips

Fall Autumn Pumpkins and Leaves

Summer Comes to an End

It seems like yesterday I wrote a blog about on Spring Safety, now the time has come to trade the electric trimmer for the rake, the lawnmower for the leaf blower, and the air conditioner for the space heater (hopefully later rather than sooner).

Before we make the full transition from summer mowing to fall cleanup, please keep the following safety tips in mind:

11 Fall Safety Tips

  1. Safely store warm weather tools like lawn mowers and trimmers. Check fall yard tools, such as leaf blowers, along with their power cords, for unusual wear and tear. Repair or replace worn tools or parts right away
  2. Unplug and safely store battery chargers that won’t be in use again until spring
  3. Raking leaves? Prevent back injuries by standing upright while raking and pull from your arms and legs. Don’t overfill leaf bags, and when picking them up, bend at the knee and use your legs, not your back, for support
  4. Use only weatherproof electrical devices for outside activities. Protect outdoor electrical devices from moisture. Make sure electrical equipment that has been wet is inspected and reconditioned by a certified repair dealer
  5. Keep dry leaves swept away from outdoor lighting, outlets, and power cords to prevent them from catching fire
  6. If you use a leaf blower, shield yourself; Wear appropriate clothing, eye protection, and work boots to prevent injury
  7. Continue Reading…

Prop 65
Proposition 65 List – Updated

Foggy California bay at sunset

What a Difference A Day Makes

Recently at a ballroom dance lesson, I heard the song “What a Difference a Day Makes”. A young couple is using it as their wedding song. They were learning a dance using it for the reception. Listen here to the 1959 version by Dinah Washington. Not only did the melody and words stay with me, but so did the title. Keeping in mind how things can change in a day I wanted to follow up on my blog “Extra! Extra! Read all About it: California Proposition 65 List Updated” from April 2016. A bit more than a day later but you get the point.

It turns out the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 or as it is more commonly known Prop 65 was updated seven times since my blog in April. The list has to be revised and republished at least once per year. California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is the agency responsible for Prop 65 implementation. They consider adding chemicals to the list when some other “authoritative body” makes a determination regarding a substances ability to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. Shown below are all of the new substances that were added by month. They are listed by name, type of toxicity and Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number (CAS).

Proposition 65 – New Substances

May 2016

Safety
Flood Water Safety

Wearing yellow flood boots walking through flood water

How to Stay Safe During Extreme Weather

Hurricanes bring about many emotions for me. You see, I have lived through a large number of them with varying impacts on my life. Here are just a few that trigger some strong emotions in me even after more than 15 years. In 1989, Hurricane Hugo hit. I was in college at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. What made it so scary was the fire alarm in the middle of it, which caused an evacuation from my dormitory. The wind and rain were so strong you almost couldn’t stand.

The next one that comes to mind is Bertha in in 1996. Bertha was memorable because we purchased our first home the day she hit. If we had stayed in our new home, we would have lost both of our cars due to a tree falling. The worst though came in 1999. That year brought us Dennis in August and Floyd in September. We survived Dennis with a few heavy rains and some minor damage to the neighborhood. However, Floyd hit just 2 weeks later! Again, there was little damage in our area but lots of rain. We cleaned up and prepared for work the next day. What we weren’t prepared for was the National Guard at our door at 4:00 am that next morning telling us to evacuate due Continue Reading…

Safety
OSHA, Emergency Exits, & Procedures

Neon Green Exit Sign

School Days, Fire Drills

One of my earliest memories from elementary school was deeply concentrating on my school work at my desk (at least some of the time), when suddenly being startled by a loud alarm. My classmates and I would jump up in excitement as we all meshed together in a quiet single file line, and our teacher would lead us out of the nearest exit into a parking lot on a nice Spring day. We would stand outside quietly until the principal would walk outside and give us a quick wave of her hand, and to our dismay we would all march back into school with our heads down to pick up right where we left off in the rest of the day’s school work.

In hindsight, the fun and excitement of a fire drill as a child was in actuality a well thought out systematic process designed to help students and staff become aware of how to exit the building in the quickest, easiest, and safest way possible. The importance of these emergency procedures are not only important in our childhood school days, they should also play an essential role in the workplace. In fact, OSHA clearly defines what is expected when exiting a building during an emergency.

Exit Routes

Under most circumstances, a workplace must have at least 2 exit routes depending on the number of Continue Reading…

Graduation Cap
FOODSAFE Canada, What to Know and How to Get Certified

Organic food, fresh vegetables

FOODSAFE Canada

FOODSAFE is a resource of the Province of British Colombia and is a food safety training program that instructs students on a wide array of food related safety issues.

The training program enables students to learn about food borne illness, food preparation safety, storing food, and serving food safely. The program offers courses for cooks, servers, and other restaurant employees, but also offers courses for management crews, business owners, executive chefs, and others who will handle food and areas where food is stored, prepared, or served.

In Canada, every person who owns a food establishment must obtain a certificate from a health official showing they have completed FOODSAFE or an equivalent program. The food establishment owner must also be able to show proof that in their absence, there is at least one other person in the business who has a certificate. For those in serving positions, it is not required by BC regulation, but many employers do insist that all employees hold a valid certificate to work in their establishment.

Anyone who works with food should take the course and test for certification as it not only teaches about food borne illness and how to prevent it, but it is also a good tool to use when applying for work in the food industry.

FOODSAFE is a great program for people working in the food industry including: